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Sermon #42                                                                                                                                     1st John Series


            Title:               “These three are one.”


            Text:                            1 John 5:7

            Subject:                     Grace in the Holy Trinity

            Date:                          Tuesday Evening — September 19, 2013

            Recording#   1st John 42

            Readings:                 Lindsay Campbell and Rex Bartley



What do you know about the biblical doctrine of the Trinity? You are all familiar with the term “Trinity.” You know that all orthodox Christians are supposed to be Trinitarians. But do you have a comfortable, crisp understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity as it is set forth in the Word of God? I think it would be safe to assume that most people, who profess to believe the doctrine of the Trinity, would be hard pressed to show from the Scriptures why they believe it. Therefore, I want to preach to you tonight on the unfathomable mystery of the Trinity. My text is…

1 John 5:7.


(1 John 5:7) “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”


For there are three that bear record in heaven.” They bear record that Jesus us the Christ.

  • The Father” by accepting His sacrifice.
  • The Word” by His exaltation.
  • And the Holy Ghost” by regenerating and effectually calling the redeemed.
  • And these three are one.” These three Persons are the one true and living God.


You have the title of my message in my text — “These three are one.”


Proposition: We worship one God in the Trinity, or Tri-Unity of His sacred Persons (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost), and adore each as the God of all grace by whom we are saved.


I realize at the outset the utter impossibility of a mortal man understanding, much less explaining the mystery of the holy Trinity. No mortal can comprehend the Being of the infinite God.


I also recognize that many critics, skeptics, and infidels arrogantly boast that they will not believe anything that they cannot understand and explain; but their boast is not true. They would not think of denying that the sun shines, though few, if any, can explain or understand why and how.


The fact is we live in a world full of things we cannot or do not personally understand. Yet, we never question them. I do not understand how a brown cow can eat green grass and give white milk that makes yellow butter; but I drink the milk and eat the butter.


Nothing is more confusing to scientists than the complexity of humanity. Neither biologists nor psychologists can grasp the mystery of what a man is. They tell us, in their folly, that we are the highest form of animal life. Yet, they cannot find an animal anywhere like a man. Why? Because man is not an animal. He is the only creature in the universe made in the image of God. That makes humanity an unfathomable mystery. The Word of God speaks of man as a trichotomy, a being of three parts. Unlike the animals around us, we are all material, rational, and spiritual beings. Each of us possesses a material body, a rational mind, and an immaterial or spiritual soul.


We are, in one sense, a unity, a personality. Yet, in another sense, we are a plurality, a tri-unity, or a trinity. How do you put all that together in one you? I cannot begin to tell you; but I know it is so. No one will ever be able to adequately explain the complex mystery of humanity. All we can do is watch and observe.


If that is true with regard to humanity, how much more so must it be true when we think about the infinite God! We cannot understand or explain even the works of God. We certainly cannot understand His Being! I make no pretense at being able to explain the Trinity. I cannot explain what I do not understand. Someone once said, “That man is a fool who denies the doctrine of the Trinity; and he is equally a fool who tries to explain it.” My only object in this message is to show you that the Word of God teaches this doctrine and that it is a doctrine full of comfort and inspiration.


Divisions: I want you to follow me through the Scriptures, as I show you three things from the Word of God concerning the unfathomable mystery of the Trinity. — “These three are one.”

1. The Bible clearly teaches the doctrine of the Trinity.

2. All three Persons in the Godhead are equally gracious.

3. No doctrine in the Bible more inspires unity among believers than the doctrine of the Trinity.


Bible Doctrine


First, I want you to see that the Bible clearly teaches the doctrine of the Trinity. This is not a matter of guesswork. It is not a point of theological speculation or conjecture. 1st John 5:7 specifically and clearly states the doctrine of the Trinity.


“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”


But this is not the only place where the doctrine is taught. Throughout the Scriptures, God reveals himself as triune Being, one in three and three in one. All are equal in all things and co-eternal. When we say we believe in the Trinity of the Divine Persons…

·      We do not mean that there are three equal, but separate Gods.

·      We do not mean that there is one God manifest in three personalities.

·      We mean that we worship one God in three Divine Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.


The Divine Trinity is the union of these three Persons in one Godhead, so that all three are one God as to substance, but three Persons as to individuality.


Is this or is it not the doctrine of the Bible? That is the only thing that matters. I want you to see for yourself that the Word of God clearly teaches the doctrine.


This is a doctrine found in the Old Testament Scriptures as well as the New. In the self-disclosure, or self-revelation, of God in the Old Testament, the Lord our God is always represented as one God, but always as one God with plural Persons within the Godhead.


Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.”


Genesis 1:1-2 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (2) And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”


Genesis 1:26 “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”


The Old Testament Scriptures constantly point us to the three Persons of the Godhead. We are often confronted with God the Father, the Spirit of the Lord, and the many pre-incarnate appearances of Christ as the Angel of the Lord.


One of the most common Hebrew words used for God is the word El. You find it in a thousand combinations in the Old Testament. The plural form of the word El is Elohim. This is the word used in Genesis one.


W.A. Criswell “In the first chapter of Genesis, that word Elohim is used thirty-two times. In the books of Moses, Elohim is used more than five hundred times. In the Old Testament Scriptures, Elohim is used more than five thousand times. In all thirty-two times in the first chapter of Genesis, in all the more than five hundred times in the writings of Moses, and in all the more than five thousand times in the Old Testament, without exception, Elohim is used with a singular verb. Elohim, plural, referring to the majesty and abounding marvel and mystery of God, appears with a singular verb.”


The implication of that fact is obvious. The Lord our God, the Triune God, is one God; and this Triune God is the one true and living God. There is no other God.


The New Testament clearly and emphatically declares the doctrine of the Trinity, as well.There is never an effort to prove the doctrine. It is simply stated as a matter of fact, a fact commonly received and believed by all who were numbered among the saints.


·      In Connection with the Incarnation


Matthew 1:20-23 “But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. (21) And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (22) Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, (23) Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”


·      In Connection with Our Lord’s Baptism


Matthew 3:15-17 “And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. (16) And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: (17) And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”


·      In Connection with The Great Commission


Matthew 28:19-20 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name {NAME, NOT NAMES - One God, but Three Persons} of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”


·      In Connection with Our Lord’s Promise


John 14:16 “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another {ANOTHER EXACTLY LIKE ME} Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.”


·      In Connection with The Apostolic Benediction


2 Corinthians 13:14 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”


The New Testament declares that God the Father is God (Romans 1:7), God the Son is God (Hebrews 1:8), and God the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4). Yet, “The LORD our God is one LORD.”


The doctrine of the Trinity runs through every pat of the New Testament (Luke 1:35; John 14:26; 15:26; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 1:17; 2:18; 3:14-16; 4:4-7; 5:18-20; 6:17-23; 1 Peter 1:2; Jude 20-21; Revelation 1:4-6).


Luke 1:35 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.


John 14:26 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.


John 15:26 26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.


Galatians 4:6 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.


Ephesians 1:17 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.


Ephesians 2:18 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.


Ephesians 3:14-16 14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.


Ephesians 4:4-7 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.


Ephesians 5:18-20 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;


Ephesians 6:17-23 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. 21 But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things: 22 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts. 23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


1 Peter 1:2 2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.


Jude 1:20-21 20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, 21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.


Revelation 1:4-6 4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; 5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.


Someone accurately stated that — “The Father is all the fulness of the Godhead invisible (John 1:18); the Son is all the fulness of the Godhead manifested (John 1:14-18); the Spirit is all the fulness of God acting immediately upon the creature (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).”


I confess my inability to produce a single argument drawn from nature or logic to prove the doctrine of the Trinity. It is a mystery filled with such grandeur that it defies comprehension by finite minds. But our faith does not stand upon nature and logic. Our faith stands upon the Word of God alone. I believe the doctrine of the Trinity because it is revealed in Holy Scripture; and I see it clearly because I believe it.


Equally Gracious


Without question, the Bible teaches the doctrine of the Trinity. Now, secondly, I want you to see that all three Persons in the Godhead are equally gracious. This is one of the many great Gospel truths Paul shows us in the first chapter of Ephesians. As the three Persons of the eternal Godhead are equal in Divinity but distinct in personality, so all three of the Divine Persons are equal in grace but distinct in the operations of grace.


God the Father is set before us as the Fountain of all grace


Ephesians 1:3-6 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”


It was God the Father who, in the covenant of grace, proposed redemption, devised the plan, and chose the people He would save by His almighty grace. He found a way whereby His banished ones could be brought back to Him and never expelled from His presence. Then, “in the fulness of time,” He sent his Son to be the Medium or Mediator of grace to His chosen.


Galatians 4:4-6 “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, (5) To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. (6) And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”


God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the Channel of all grace.


Ephesians 1:7-12 “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; (8) Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; (9) Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: (10) That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (11) In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (12) That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.”


All grace comes to sinners through Christ the Mediator. In this one chapter Paul tells us fourteen times that everything God does for sinners and gives to sinners is in Christ. Apart from Christ there is no grace! God will not deal with man, but by Christ. Man cannot deal with God, but by Christ. Christ is the Revelation of God, the incarnation of God, the only way to God; and He is God.

  • Am I chosen of God? I am chosen in Christ!
  • Am I blessed of God? I am blessed in Christ!
  • Am I predestinated by God? I am predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ!
  • Am I adopted as a son of God? I am adopted in Christ!
  • Am I accepted of God? I am accepted in Christ!
  • Am I redeemed by God? I am redeemed in Christ!
  • Am I forgiven by God? I am forgiven in Christ!
  • Am I justified before God? I am justified in Christ!
  • Am I sanctified by God? I am sanctified in Christ!
  • Do I know God? I know him in Christ!
  • Do I have an inheritance from God? I have it in Christ!
  • Am I called of God? I am called in Christ!


Do you see what I am saying? All grace comes to us through Christ. There is no other way the grace of God can reach a sinner. Let no rejecter of God’s Son imagine that he shall be the beneficiary of God’s grace! It is the work of Christ upon the cross that has brought grace and justice together in the salvation of sinners. It is through His blood, only through the blood of the cross that “mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85:10).


Blissfully lost in the contemplation of God’s matchless grace in Christ, John Bunyan penned these rapturous words…


“O Thou Son of the Blessed! Grace stripped Thee of thy glory. Grace brought Thee down from heaven. Grace made Thee bear such burdens of sin, such burdens of curse as are unspeakable. Grace was in Thy heart. Grace came bubbling up from Thy bleeding side. Grace was in Thy tears. Grace was in Thy prayers. Grace streamed from Thy thorn-crowned brow! Grace came forth with the nails that pierced Thee, with the thorns that pricked Thee! Oh, here are unsearchable riches of grace! Grace to make sinners happy! Grace to make angels wonder! Grace to make devils astonished!”


The Fountain of all grace is God the Father. The medium of all grace is God the Son. And God the Holy Spirit is the Administrator of all grace.


Ephesians 1:13-14 “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (14) Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”


It is God the Holy Ghost who effectually applies the blood of Christ to chosen, redeemed sinners.

  • He regenerates the dead by omnipotent power
  • He calls the redeemed with irresistible grace.
  • He gives faith to the chosen by almighty operations of grace.
  • He seals God’s elect unto everlasting glory.


In Hebrews 9:12-14, the Apostle describes our twofold redemption: Accomplished and Applied!


Hebrews 9:12-14 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?


Without the sovereign, gracious operations of God the Holy Spirit in conversion no sinner would ever become the beneficiary of grace. He takes the things of Christ and shows them to His people. He quickens those the Father chose, reclaims those the Son redeemed, and leads to the Good Shepherd everyone of those lost sheep for whom the Good Shepherd laid down His life (John 10:11).


C.D. Cole —— “He conquers the stoutest hearts and cleanses the foulest spiritual leper. He opens the sin-blinded eyes and unstops the sin-closed ears. The blessed Holy Spirit reveals the grace of the Father and applies the grace of the Son.”


All three Persons in the Godhead are equally gracious; and all three must be equally praised.


“Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Praise Him all creatures here below!

Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts!

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!”


Here is something I discovered as I was studying for this message that I had never observed before. Whenever the three Persons of the Holy Trinity are presented together in the Scriptures, it is always in connection with redemption, grace, and salvation. I have not found an exception.

  • Sometimes God the Father is presented alone, as when He stood upon Mt. Sinai, clothed with thunder and lightning, delivering the law to Moses. So terrible was His presence that the very mountain shook in the prospect of God’s awesome judgment (Exodus 20:18).
  • Sometimes God the Son appears alone, as when He appears in His glorious second advent. Then men and women who have despised and rejected Him will cry for the mountains to fall upon them and pray in terror that they might be saved from “the wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:14).
  • When God the Holy Spirit is represented alone, the consequences are the same. Those who blaspheme Him, committing that sin which can never be forgiven, are reserved as reprobates unto everlasting judgment (Matthew 12:31-32).


Whenever one Person in the Trinity is presented alone, the result is judgment. However, when all three of the Divine Persons are set before us together, the consequence is always mercy, grace, redemption, and salvation (Ephesians 1:3-14; Revelation 1:4-6). If I understand the implications of this fact correctly, it is one more way of assuring us of that which is taught throughout the Scriptures. — The whole Being of God, in all His attributes, in all His glory, in the Trinity of His sacred Persons is set for the everlasting salvation of His elect (Jeremiah 32:41; Romans 8:28-32).


Jeremiah 32:41 41 Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.


Romans 8:28-32 28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?


Inspires Unity


Let me show you one more thing, and I will be done. —— No doctrine in the Bible more forcibly inspires unity among true believers than the doctrine of the Trinity. I am not talking to you about some abstract point of theological speculation, or some profitless point of doctrinal refinement. I am talking to you about a subject so far above our comprehension that it should inspire our deepest reverence and humility, as well as the most circumspect consecration and unity.


In our baptism, you and I have publicly avowed our consecration to our God. Being baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, we publicly declared our consecration and commitment to…

  • Obey the Will of the Father.
  • Live for the Glory of the Son.
  • Submit to the Leadership of the Holy Spirit. — “Defer not to pay it.” — “Pay that which thou hast vowed!”


Let every thought about the Holy Trinity stimulate in us a desire that we may be one even as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost are one.


John 17:20-22 “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; (21) That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (22) And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.”


James Pendleton — “Who can think of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as one — one in nature, one in love, one in purpose — and not hope for the day when the intercessory prayer of Christ will be answered in the union of all His followers?”


Let us earnestly devote ourselves, as the sons and daughters of the triune God, to this unity. Oh, that we might truly be…

  • One in Purpose — The Glory of God!
  • One in Labor — The Cause of Christ!
  • One in Love!


Philippians 2:2-5 “Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. (3) Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. (4) Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. (5) Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”


For Christ’s sake, as the children of God, for His glory, let us learn, by the grace of God …

·      Patience with One Another.

·      Esteem for One Another.

·      Forgiveness of One Another

·      Forbearance with One Another.

·      Deference to One Another.

·      Soon, we shall be one in glory!


John 17:22 “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.”


Application: This is the New Testament doctrine of the Trinity.

1. The Bible clearly teaches the doctrine of the Trinity.

2. All three Persons in the Godhead are equally gracious.

3. No doctrine in the Bible more forcibly inspires unity among believers than the doctrine of the Trinity.


Ephesians 4:1-6 “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, (2) With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; (3) Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (4) There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; (5) One Lord, one faith, one baptism, (6) One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”





Don Fortner








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